Sandals: Teva The Original
Teva claim to be the pioneers in sports sandal design and manufacture producing their first sandal 25 years ago. With ‘The Original’ Teva have re-launched their classic design for 2009 adding modern high-tech materials, updated design features and an amphibious twist. The Original is part of the new Teva Pro range and according to the literature has been “engineered and tested to perform in the most technical conditions for elite outdoor athletes and white-water professionals”. The range has specific versions for men and women and also includes ‘The Ultimate Thong’ and ‘The Universal Buckle’
The Original sandals are based on a standard flip flop design with a strap that go between the big toe and the second toe. However, they have the addition of heel padding and a padded ankle strap that would be found on a conventional sports sandal. The muted brown, grey and orange colouring is subtle and stylish.
The strap around the ankle is fastened with a plastic buckle (similar to those found on rucksacks) and can be easily adjusted to fit. This simple yet effective strapping system holds your foot very securely and means that The Originals are suitable footwear for walks over rocky terrain and what is more the sandal stays in place if you happen to take a swim – be that in class 5 rapids or just down the beach. The neoprene padding is sufficient to give some support to the foot and prevented any rubbing from the straps.
If you do take a dip whilst wearing The Originals the simple webbing fabric and neoprene padding means that they dry amazingly quickly as there is little material to absorb and retain the water in the first place. The sole units don’t absorb any water either so there is not issue of slopping around with heavy water-logged footwear as I have found with other sports sandals. These sandals have truly been designed for people who spend their time on the water, then in it and then hiking along the river bank.
The cushioning in the sole unit is firm so I found that they are not ideal footwear for really long hikes, but for scouting rapids, wandering round camp or walking that dirt road to the beach the cushioning is more than adequate. The Teva technology claims that the shoc pad “A blended polyurethane/EVA unit in the heel cup” “evenly transfers the energy of impact throughout the foot-bed and away from the heel. This energy return actually provides greater spring with each forefoot push-off.”
For me however what sets the Tevas Originals (and other products in the Pro Range) apart from other sports sandals and sandals aimed at river use in particular is the Spider SSR rubber on the soles, which I found performed exceptionally on wet rocks. I found the rubber to be confidence inspiring which is a must if scrambling around river banks scouting rapids.
The only mild flaw I can find in the product is that the Teva designers may have missed a bit of a trick with The Originals as the ankle and heel straps can’t be completely removed. They are both sewn in which means you can’t turn The Originals into a standard pair of flip flops which on occasion could be useful.
I kayaked the Grand Canyon in 2007 and without exception all the professional raft and kayak guides out of choice wore Tevas. For me you can’t get a much better recommendation for river footwear than from people who earn their living day in day out on the water, guiding trips on class 4 / 5 rapids. The Tevas were the ultimate versatile piece of kit. For the raft guides they were their only footwear on and off the water – even for the guided hikes into the adjacent canyons. For the kayak guides they were light and easy to stash in the boat whilst paddling and perfect for scouting rapids.
This unanimous choice of footwear for Canyon river guides is not however that surprising as the Teva brand was founded in the Grand Canyon and the brand has had an affinity with it ever since. The branding and price of the Pro Range is clearly aiming towards the elite end of the market (RRP £50) but don’t let that put you off, The Originals are equally suited to the weekend water enthusiasts or simply for kicking back around camp or at the beach. The Originals are a design classic and warrant their re-launch and the updated feature and impressive Spider SSR rubber means they come highly recommended.
Reviewer – Dan Webber